Thank you America, for I am alive today

Welcome. This is my personal blog where I am going to speak my heart out, honestly. Let me begin. Pakistani patriots raise their national slogan–Pakistan zindabad (Long live Pakistan) but I would rather say “Pakistan say zindabaagh (run from Pakistan while you are still alive). And here is the reason why.

I like to begin my first blog with an incident I faced in Washington DC just last week. It was quite interesting to go listen to one of the most well-informed Afghan Americans, former US ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad and Lt. Gen Douglas Lute, former United States Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s standing political body. The event, titled “Is Pakistan a Challenge or Opportunity for the US,”  was hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Was one of the distinguished speakers playing the bad cop and the other a good cop with the international pariah state, Pakistan? Ambassador Khalizad, despite being an acclaimed diplomat was speaking the unfiltered truth while Lt Gen Lute, despite being a general, was being quite soft on Pakistan and speaking rather diplomatically.

According to The Recap, publication of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Lt. Gen Lute argued that the US should focus on short-term security issues and on aligning US interests with Pakistan. He recommended the US ought to understand Pakistan’s perspective and not engage solely in a superior-to-subordinate relationship. Such an approach delights the thuggish generals who stole billions of dollars of US taxpayers monies in the name of fighting terror but provided and still provide safe havens to Islamic militant outfits.

The Recap pointed out Ambassador Khalilzad’s perspective focused on implementing a tougher policy to ensure the extermination of terrorist sanctuaries within Pakistani borders and strip the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from personnel who support terrorist groups. He explained that the current US administration’s roadmap for Pakistan was finding a way to guarantee much-needed Pakistani cooperation. Khalilzad was wary of Pakistan’s expansionist tendencies and fearful of its increasing nuclear capacity.

Needless to say Khalilzad approach is admired by both the Afghans and Baloch, but detested by the Pakistanis. Ambassador Khalilzad pointed out what a liar Pakistan army dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf was as he emphatically stated, “There’s no Taliban in Pakistan.”

“There he is,” Ambassador Khalilzad said as I wanted to ask a question related to Pakistan terrorism and the moderator  Shamila Chaudhary, Foreign Policy Institute Fellow, was saying she had run out of time . “He is the prime minister you cannot deny him (to speak),” Ambassador Khalilzad insisted in a friendly manner, “We are honored (to have him here),” Ambassador Khalilzad added. As Gen Lute listened with rapt attention,  I raised the question how can the US talk about opportunities from Pakistan when the Pakistan army and ISI generals call the US troops based in Afghanistan as chocolate boys (who can be easily defeated by the Taliban), when America’s worst enemy Osama bin laden was found hiding next door to Pakistan’s Westpoint, when Pakistan generals have the blood of more than 2,400 US troops who were martyred in Afghanistan, and when the Pakistan generals are killing Baloch and Afghans as if they were ants and flies.

The reason I am writing this is the ISI obstruction I faced right on Massachusetts Avenue– the Mecca of US think-tanks in the US capital.  No sooner did I get the mic to make my comment– thanks to Ambassador Khalilzad–, the ISI guy sitting behind me (I am witholding his name so he does not get a raise from Aabpara) also got up and began interrupting and cross talking that I was not born in Pakistan and also that I was being paid by the Indians.

The mole is known among DC think-tank circles as both ISI and nut case. He was partially right on the first point as I was born in Burma to an old Baloch family, but my family had solid roots in Karachi, where Baloch formed the majority ethnic community until the 1947 holocaust. The most significant truths about my family in Burma are my eldest sister was classmates with Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi all through their school years in Rangoon, my dad hosted Gen Aung Sang, Suu Kyi’s father, and Burma’s first premier U Nu at our countryside mansion, my dad’s half brother physically lifted Mahatma Gandhi from the commoner’s class and forced him to sit in the white-class in the train during Gandhi’s visit to Burma, while a late uncle used to financially support a young army officer who later became the Burmese dictator, Gen Ne Vin. After the coup, Gen Ne Vin, whose slogan was “Burmese way of socialism,” met my uncle in London and told him bluntly, “We don’t want Cadillacs and Buicks in Burma, we want bullocks.” The family could have easily settled in any Western country like Canada or UK in 1962 as these countries had opened their doors to refugees affected by the army coup but decided to go to Karachi where we commanded respect among the local Baloch and Sindhis as my grandfather was the Amirul Qaum or leader of the Baloch people of Karachi. Prior to partition, Karachi was such a beautiful city where roads were washed in the mornings and the city even had a Jewish council man, Abraham Reuben. The partition holocaust changed Karachi– even today the world’s largest Baloch city–  from the Paris of the East to one of the most violent cities in the world as the cultured and highly educated Sindhi Hindus left Karachi for India.

The more ludicrous charge was that I was being paid by the Indians– I really wish the Pakistan mole of Kashmir origin was right on this one, though. Indians are not like Pakistanis who offer wholesome and generous support to those who call for Ghazwa-i-Hind or jihad in Kashmir. Indian babus in New Delhi are reputed to be so stingy and corrupt that they even don’t support those who put their lives on the line for Mother India’s sake. For example RAW agent Ravindra Kaushik whose real story was fictionalized in the Bollywood movie Ek Tha Tiger. One of the most daring and dashing agents, Kaushik went on a Pakistan mission like the present NSA Ajit Doval. He was arrested but was completely forgotten by India after his arrest. Kaushik died unsung and unwept in a Pakistani prison. So when the passive babus, who call the shots in New Delhi, care two hoots about such fine sons of Mother India like Kaushik, how can they possibly care about a Baloch writer?

As I write these lines I have with me my old phone books with phone numbers of some of those from Balochistan I met and interviewed or I knew who were killed by the Pakistan army and ISI on a charge of being an Indian agent. I too would have gotten killed in Pakistan as I have believed in a free homeland for Balochistan since the age of 14 — I am now 58. The foremost among those from Balochistan who I interviewed in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, and also met him in his ancestral hometown of Dera Bugti was former governor and chief minister of Balochistan Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. It is true that Nawab Bugti tried his level best to work within Pakistan for nearly six decades — he shook hands with founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was rejected by Baloch patriots for being a thug in 1947.  Still Bugti was finally left with no option but to throw the gauntlet at Pakistan army and ISI and became the greatest martyr in Balochistan’s history as he was the highest ranking Baloch to be killed on the Baloch battlefields. Even today an unrepentant Gen Musharraf accuses him and one of his political successors, Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti, of being an Indian agent. Others who I knew from Pakistan and also have their numbers in my phone book are Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, the brave and courageous first president of the Baloch National Movement, and Professor Saba Dashtiyari, a fiery pro-freedom intellectual and gay scholar. Pakistan suspected all of them were Indian agents.

In Pakistan the super patriots and mullahs accuse any Baloch or Sindhi, and even mohajirs, who demand freedom or rights as being Indian agents just like they did with Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The mere charge of being of an Indian agent is enough for any Baloch to be killed by the ISI in Pakistan and so I told myself: Thank you America, I am alive today.

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